Tag Archives: badminton

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Horse Scout Real: Emily King

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Horse Scout catches up with eventing advocate Emily King to find out her thoughts on the UK’s most prestigious three day event – Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

 

Why is Badminton such a special event to you?

I have been to Badminton nearly every year since I was young with my mum, and for me, it’s the biggest and best event in the world.

What is your most memorable moment at Badminton?

Competing for my first time there on Brookleigh in 2016. We lay 2nd after dressage but unfortunately had a fall at the second last on the cross country!

What is your top Cross Country tip?

Stay on the tightest line possible, sometimes going slower can get a tighter line and thus making you faster.

What is your top Show Jumping tip?

Rhythm, power, balance. Three very vital words!

What is your top Dressage tip?

Stay cool, calm and concentrate on all of the small things – every corner, every transition, how you’re sitting. This influences everything.

What are your thoughts on the 2019 Badminton Cross Country course? 

It appears a tough, bold, rider testing course. The lake is always so imposing, so I’m sure that’ll cause it’s fair share of problems. Then the corner ditch, corner, (where the vicarage vee was last year) – I think that’ll catch a few horses and riders out this year.

How is Dargun feeling?

Dre’s feeling great! He’s had a couple of good prep runs this spring at Belton & Burnham Market, where he’s been on top form. He feels extremely fit and well, so everything crossed!!

Horse Scout is thrilled to have you as the Eventing brand ‘Face’ of the Horse Scout Collection. Which product do you believe you’ll get the most wear from?

It’s hard to say! But I think I love the Jin Stirrups and Horse Scout Ears the most of all. The stirrups due to their durability and grip, the ears due to their comfort and their thicker material which is fantastic for helping to cancel out any excess noise for the horses.

Will you be using Horse Scout Jin Stirrup irons at Badminton this year?

Yes I will, on all of my saddles! They’re super lightweight, grippy and most of all they’re extremely strong.

What is your aim for Badminton 2019?

I’d just love to come home knowing myself and Dre have tried our hardest. I’d obviously love to have a top result, but with it being his first thing at this level you have to be open minded… so the main thing for me is for him to come home safe and sound having had a wonderful time.

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Oliver Towend Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event

Horse Scout advocate makes history at Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event

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It was “champagne Monday” in Horse Scout HQ today, as our advocates have made us proud again. The boy is already world number one, but Oliver Townend has just become the first British rider to take back to back wins at the Land Rover Kentucky 5*, America’s most prominent Three-Day event.  “This is one of the biggest events in the world and it’s an eventing childhood dream to win at the highest level” Oliver said, after his steely nerves delivered the clear round that was essential to win. Oliver was riding the 14-year-old Irish bred, Cooley Master Class which is owned by Angela Hislop. The Ramiro B sired gelding was also his partner when he lifted the Land Rover title last year.

Oliver led after both dressage and cross-country, but came into the final phase with less than a pole between him and third place. Last year’s Burghley winner Tim Price and Xavier Faer produced a stunning clear to add to the pressure. It was then the turn of the popular American rider, Boyd Martin and Tseterleg. Boyd received the biggest applause of the day by the home crowd, after he too, jumped a clear round. You could have heard a mouse squeak as Oliver entered the arena, his face displaying complete focus and determination. The crowds were suitably rapturous after he produced a faultless round and Oliver delighted them further as he hugged his horse.

“I am so proud, I can’t say what this means” he said, fighting back tears as he explained how his horse Cooley Master Class, has not been the most straightforward. “It’s a huge team effort, it hasn’t been an easy journey, but we always believed in him and the horse is pure class. It was just my job to press the buttons at the right time and he delivered again.”

British based Tim Price, was delighted with the British bred Xavier Faer who is owned by his breeder Trisha Rickards together with Nigella Hall and Tim. Although it was no doubt on his mind that a win here, would have put him in contention for the lucrative Rolex Grand Slam after he claimed the win at Burghley last year.

Britain’s Piggy French moved up from fifth to fourth on Quarrycrest Echo, the horse she took to Tryon for the World Equestrian Games last year.

Oliver claimed the lions share of the $400,000 prize pot as well as a Land Rover Discovery for a year. We look forward to following him and our other advocates Joseph Murphy and Emily king, at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this week.

Official Highlights Film From Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event 2019

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BADMINTON CROSS COUNTRY… REVISITING THE PAST

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Welcome to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 

Wed 1st- Sun 5th May 2019

 

This week Horse Scout got a sneak peek at the cross-country course for the 70thedition of Badminton Horse Trials. “It feels like something we might have seen 25 years ago” was how Hugh Thomas described it. Big open ditches, making full use of the lips, dips, mounds, general topography and natural features of this beautiful park. This is a course that retains that “ride on your wits” cross-country feel which it has once again become famed for in recent years.

 

Eric Winter is now in his third year as course designer of Badminton and his philosophy in course design has remained the same throughout. “My aim is to put to the test, the relationship between horse and rider and the training of the horse.”

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The course runs clockwise around the park this year. As always, riders will start in the main arena before heading out to the Staircase fence- a sizeable log parallel down the two stone steps and a tight left turn to another log parallel. “It is an open start to the course to allow riders to get into a rhythm. Unlike last year where there were some early challenges, I didn’t want to break the rhythm early.”

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Things start to get pretty serious by fence 10- The Shogun Sport Hollow. After a long gallop which could be influential before a particularly technical fence, there is a funneling pagoda to direct riders to a narrow coffin ditch which is eerily, even the shape of a coffin, and a left or right choice of chunky, narrow tree trunks out. This is where the new FEI red flag rule could come into play. Where riders will be penalized 15 penalties if the whole horse does not pass between red and white flags- so that is shoulders as well as hindquarters. A rule which has not been well received by leading riders, course designers and officials… who shall remain nameless!

 

Fence 11 and 12 is the massive KBIS Bridge over the infamous Vicarage Ditch. The double numbering allows for a two jump escape route. The next fence has been used in some form at Badminton since 1949 and this year involves the notorious bank followed by a narrow brush roll top.

 

The Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner follows. Whilst impressive to the spectator, it’s big log over gaping ditch should not cause too many problems at this level. Then on to the Hildon Water Pond at 15ab which is perhaps a little softer than previous years with a big drop in before turning to a log trough in the water. Eric describes this as a run and jump fence and a bit of a let up before another tricky part of the course. Possibly an opportunity to make up time, although Eric pointed out that in the last two years of running, not one combination of horse and rider had finished on their dressage score.

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The Vicarage Ditch to the Mirage Water at 17abc and 18 is possibly one of the greatest challenges on course. An enormous right-angled corner is proceeded by an open ditch situated on a dip in the bank which will definitely unsettle some horses. Then a level four strides to another fearsome corner fence. “This is the sort of fence you would see 40 years ago- we could see all sorts of jumps over the ditch which adds to the unpredictability of the course,” Eric says.

 

There is no let up just yet and 19ab, the Nyetimber Heights involves a steep slope to an airy brush on top of a mound. Before plummeting down into the dip and up for a choice of four narrow scrubbing brush skinnies.

 

Finally, there is a course let-up fence at 20 before rider head on to three asymmetric corners in a row at the YoungMinds Brushes. YoungMinds- who help young people with mental illness and struggles is the chosen charity at this year’s event.

 

Fence 24 is an impressive affair to give riders their first taste of the infamous Badminton Lake. The jump is basically a large parallel but the design, with a pump station extending over the Lake to create a waterfall effect, which might unsettle some horses. Especially when added to the considerable crowd that always flock to the Lake. The brush fence in has been pulled back so riders land on grass before entering the Lake, then a step up and the iconic Mitsubishi pick-ups which this year have a trailer attached with dome-shaped spruce which is the part jumped by riders and horses.

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The Lakeside spectators get value for money as riders double back to the Wadworth Lower Lake at 26, a triple bar approached through the water.  After an inviting hedge comes the Voltaire Design Huntsmans Close which involves a birch parallel to a birch spread corner on a right turn.

 

To avoid a flat out gallop Eric has the Eclipse Cross Chicane (29 ab), two open ditch brushes on a U bend out and in of the deer park before the HorseQuest Quarry (30 ab) looms. This is less complicated than in recent years. In over the stone wall to a drop then up and out over a second wall.

 

Even though we are nearly home, Badminton is no place for complacency and we have seen many a rider tip up in the final few fences. The Hayracks at 31ab a roll top spread to a roll top skinny, then fence 32 the Rolex Trunk which is a sculpted log.

 

Back into the arena is the Mitsubishi Final Mount at 33, a fence designed by a member of the public for a competition a few years ago, where riders jump a pair of sculpted wooden saddles.

 

As ever a good completion will be an exhilarating experience for both the old pros and especially for those whose first experience of Badminton this will be.

 

 

CHI Geneva 2018

CELEBRATING THE SPONSOR: ROLEX AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO EQUESTRIAN SPORT

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Olympia, Badminton, Burghley, Windsor would simply not exist without sponsorship just as professional riders could not live without their support. We are extremely lucky to have some huge and high-end brands involved with equestrian brands so we thought it high time we celebrated one who has been involved in Eventing, Showjumping, Dressage for many years. They are also sponsors of the recent CHI in Geneva which attracts the best showjumpers in the world.

Rolex is synonymous with equestrian sport at the highest level. As well as sponsoring a number of individuals such as showjumpers Scott Brash, Rodrigo Pessoa, Steve Guerdat and Kent Farrington, Plus World Number One dressage rider Isabel Werth and event rider Zara Tindall; they are responsible for offering some of the richest prizes in the sport. The Rolex Grand Slam in both Showjumping and Eventing is one of the most lucrative and best-known accolades a rider can achieve. A true test of horsemanship and steely nerves, it’s the one they all want to claim. Last week was one of Rolex’s title shows- the CHI Geneva.

This year, the show welcomed 40 of the best riders in the world to compete in the main class, the Rolex Grand Prix, the final Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Fittingly, Geneva is the home city of the Swiss watchmaker and The Rolex Grand Prix is, staged in the  Palexpo Arena. The 22-year partnership between Rolex and the CHI Geneva demonstrates Rolex’s commitment to supporting equestrian sport worldwide. Having been named the best show jumping event on nine occasions, CHI Geneva has a long and distinguished equestrian heritage and Rolex has been a proud sponsor since 1996.

It was a victory for Germany’s Marcus Ehning riding Pret A Tout, repeating his success from CHIO Aachen where he won the Rolex Grand Prix in July earlier this year. Second place went to Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat riding Albfüehren’s Bianca and third place went to Irish rider Darragh Kenny riding Balou du Reventon. Britain’s Scott Brash and Ben Maher finished 6thand 7thresepectively.

Over 42,500 fans gathered over the four days for the CHI. With a packed arena delighting in a thrilling two-stage Rolex Grand Prix competition between the world’s elite. Scott Brash was the first rider to go clear, later joined by Steve Guerdat and USA’s Kent Farrington in the line-up of riders going through to the jump-off. The Swiss crowd erupted into applause as one of their home favourites, Guerdat went clear, sailing around the challenging course.

With 11 clears in the first round, the equestrian fans were enraptured as they waited for what promised to be a breath-taking jump-off, with three Rolex Testimonees, the world number one and a previous Major winner included in the line-up. Whilst all riders gave it everything, it was Marcus Ehning who prevailed with a precision performance demonstrating his exquisite horsemanship and sporting skills.

Supported by Rolex since 2013, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the most prestigious competition within equestrianism, it is also one of the toughest feats to achieve. It requires precision and excellence from every horse and rider partnership. All four Majors within the competition have a rich equestrian history and focus on delivering elite-level sport. This demonstration of commitment along with a passion for excellence reflect Rolex’s values and make each a perfect partner for the Swiss watchmaker.

The world’s equestrian elite will now look to The Dutch Masters, the first Major of 2019, where Ehning will be travelling as the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender.

 

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HORSE SCOUT REAL: MARK TODD

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Undoubtedly one of the most prolific riders of all time, Horse Scout advocate Mark Todd has been competing at the top of the sport for nearly forty years. As well as winning Badminton four times and Burghley five times, Mark (aka “Toddy”) has competed at seven Olympic Games winning medals at five of those, including individual gold in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988). In 1978 he was part of New Zealand’s first three-day eventing team to contest a World Equestrian Games.

 

Toddy has competed at a number World Championships since, winning team golds in Stockholm (1990) and Rome (1998) and an individual silver in Rome. Despite this unprecedented and sustained success at the top of the sport, one prize has eluded the 62 year old. “I have never won an individual World Championship” he says. “If I retired tomorrow I could say I have had a very fortunate career and I have done way more than I ever imagined I could. But I am still competitive enough that I still strive to win the big ones- Burghley, Badminton and the World Equestrian Games.”

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With three horses qualified for the FEI World Equestrian Games, we will almost definitely see Toddy in the line up. But before the Games which take place next month (11-23rd September), he has a demanding schedule ahead.

 

“From now on it gets really busy. Although I have a smaller team of horses, it is pretty much every weekend. Burghley is the first major coming later this month.” He feels there is unfinished business here this year. “Having had what I thought was being in a good winning position last year, until near the end of the cross-country. I’d love to go and have another crack again” he says referring to his fall from Leonidas just a few fences from home.

 

“Then a few days after Burghley, we leave for WEG. At this stage I am not sure which horse I will be taking but I have Leonidas, Kilturbrid Rhapsody and McClaren qualified.”

 

Toddy will be one of the oldest riders at the Games but also the one with the most experience. He does not feel his age has affected him physically. “I don’t feel it’s any physically more demanding- except when you come off” he smiles. “I have been riding so long that I have that muscle memory. I keep myself fit and healthy.” However, he implies that his competitive drive is perhaps not what it used to be. “I still enjoy the competition but I don’t enjoy all the work involved quite like I used to.”

 

Beyond this year Toddy is undecided on what the future holds. “I would love to take McClaren to Badminton next year but I will see how I feel at the end of this year.  I have young horses coming on and I certainly haven’t made up my mind but if I won a medal at WEG, I might decide to leave it there.”

 

Horse Scout’s Ellie Kelly was talking to Mark whilst test-driving the full range of Land Rovers and Range Rovers in an off-road experience day at Rockingham Castle. Mark Todd is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been at the heart of equestrian sport for over 30 years. For more information visit  www.landrover.co.uk

To view Mark Todd’s profile click here.

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Ellie Kelly Horse Scout Media

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“It’s unjumpable!”: Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Course Preview

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“It’s unjumpable!”: Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Course Preview

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“I want to challenge the relationship between horse and rider, it is about knowing your horse and having that trust” says Badminton Course Designer Eric Winter. We happen to be stood on the landing side of the jump into Badminton’s iconic fence “The Lake” which is a drop of well over six foot.

 

Then as soon as riders have plummeted down from the sizable log, praying they don’t take a ducking in front of millions of ringside and TV viewers, they must take a sharp right pull to jump a box brush in the water and several strides later, tug right again to ascend a sharp bank to another box brush, this one on a dirty great angle. “It walks three but will probably ride four strides out of the water” says Eric “So it has the same unpredictability about it as last year.” Many riders and spectators were critical of Eric’s “unpredictability” in terms of uneven stride distance jumping out of The Lake last year, which claimed a significant number of jumping faults. Yet he argues “those who sat still were fine.”


Badminton Horse Trials has reclaimed much of it’s former status as the biggest cross-country in the world and this year’s course exemplifies that. Eric Winter is in his second year of designing. Despite a difficult start to the season in terms of horse preparation with so many events cancelled, Eric has not taken a soft approach to his course design.

 

In our Horse Scout interview, Eric picks out the fences he believes will cause the most challenges on our drive around the course:

 

This year, the course is anti-clockwise so Huntsman’s Close comes early at 6abc. It’s the second combination on course (first being The HorseQuest Quarry at 4ab) and involves jumping a big log which should be approached on a sharp angle, before quickly setting up for two extremely angled narrow logs, which give the word “skinny” a new meaning. The line and point of take off is made more confusing and cluttered by surrounding trees and the roots of the logs. That combined with hundreds of spectators and a few BBC cameras could leave a few of the greener combinations a bit “rabbit in the headlights”.

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“Huntsman’s Close is the first real challenge and a technical one. It’s about control and a real Showjumping question. Rider need an organised canter and to make their horses sit back and stay focused. This will suit the handy, pony type horses and whilst there is a long route, you should be taking the straight routes this early on to prepare your horse for later questions”.

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The Lake comes early at fence 9abc and if you’re going, this will be the best place to watch according to Eric. Not just because it is always full of drama but the viewing is excellent and there is the potential to see six fences from one grandstand. He admits that he last year’s design was a “learning curve” with a rail in as horses launched over the rail and struggled to make the turn out. This year’s log looks just as imposing, it should be more user-friendly as horse’s can “roll over it”.

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“The Lake is a control exercise but a different one to Huntsman’s for example. It is a more open distance, encouraging you to ride forwards to the distance.”

 

The Hildon New Pond is a real test of the senses with waterfalls incorporated into jumps, a big log pile followed by a sharp slope to a hanging log, with water running off it- the noise of the water is certainly audible. Then a sharp left turn up a steep bank to the angled brush oxer.”

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“The Pond is a real hunting question and how it rides depends a bit what you are sat on. Riders need to pop rather than launch in then find the energy through the sharp turn to the jump out. It’s another fence which really gets to the heart of the relationship between horse and rider, where you really have to know your horse and trust each other. It is energy sapping fence at fence 20, you still have a way to go.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

 

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Tina Cook

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Tina Cook

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Tina Cook is one of Britain’s most successful event riders and has been a mainstay on Team GB since the early 1990’s. She is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning individual and team bronze in 2008 and team silver in London 2012 as well as winning a further 11 medals at World and European Championships. She was part of the gold medal winning team at last year’s European Championships with Billy the Red.

Surprisingly, Tina reveals that some of her best horses have seemed “fairly average” as young horses. The good news is for us budding event riders is that Tina believes that you do not need to start with a massive budget to find a suitable event horse, even if have big ambitions. “In my experience it’s all about having a horse with a good brain” she says. “Then by creating a trusting partnership and having good management as I have done with all my top horses, look at where it can get you.”

When I look back on my top horses they have not necessarily been the most outstanding young horses, but what they have all had in common is that they have had a trainable, competitive brain and an attitude to want to please me.”

Buying British and buying blood.

Tina has never felt the need to look abroad and has bought the majority of her horses in the UK. Many have come from bloodstock sales or via her brother, the well -known racehorse trainer Nick Gifford.  “I rarely go out and look to buy horses, they tend to find me, but when I do, I have always leaned towards Thoroughbreds. As I am looking for championship and potential four star horses, the more thoroughbred blood the better, and certainly nothing less than 60% blood. It is also the brain I am used to working with so it suits me best.

The blood horses may be more average in their movement but they tend to stay sounder due to their movement being more economical and effortless. I look for an easy action when they are cantering and they must be able to travel between fences. When a horse finds galloping and stamina easy, it’s not only one less thing you have to teach them and work on, but they are the ones that find the extra gear to get themselves out of trouble, even when they are tired. It is when horses are tired that injuries happen.”

Less is more

“We are lucky in eventing because in many cases, it’s Mr Average who can make it to the top, in a way that probably isn’t possible in dressage or show-jumping where scope and movement is vital.

There have been many times in my 30 year career, when I have had flashy moving horses with huge scope and I’ve thought it was my next Olympic horse but then they have never stayed sound or proved too be difficult to produce for eventing.

I see this a lot with Junior riders. They have a taste of championship level and with some money behind them, they think they need something that looks flashy and throws a big jump. But these horses are more difficult to ride because they are bigger and rangier and use more effort.

Through my career, I haven’t had big money to spend and it’s been a case of making the best of what I’ve got. Smithstown Lad was a 16 hand hunter hireling from Ireland. Together we were on the Junior and Young Rider teams, he took me to my first Badminton and finished 4th at Burghley.

Even Miners Frolic as a young horse had a very “Thoroughbred” technique over a fence and he was naturally the bravest, but he had a lovely attitude. So we had to work on trust and technique. Then Star Witness was a racing reject and I never thought he would make a four-star horse. But he has always tried his heart out. He has now done four, four-stars with a top ten placing in every one.”

I have produced almost all of mine from scratch. Until I got to my 40s and some owners wanted to buy something to go to the Olympics so we found Billy the Red through an agent. This was the first time I have ever done this and was the first I have ridden with eventing form, as he had done a few Intermediates.

“It is definitely important and I am a big believer in “no foot, no horse”. I have had horses with bad feet and they can stay sound if managed very carefully. When buying, I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss poor conformation or weakness if I liked everything else. A lot of my horses have had issues and I have found a way to keep them on track through the levels. It’s partly because I have not had lots to spend but also because I am stubborn. If a horse has some talent and a good attitude and I see them improving, that really excites me and I want to keep going, even if they do face physical challenges.”

Producing the Prize

Tina notes that however talented a horse, there is no substitution for good horsemanship. “Yes, everybody has upped their game, but I believe success comes more from the right training and good management more than relying on exceptionally talented horses. Look at Michael Jung. He turned both Sam and Fischer Rocana from glorified Young Rider horses into four-star winners.

I am very strict with making sure they are really established at one level before I move up to the next, even if that means spending more than a season before you step up. They don’t always have to be jumping big fences and going flat out to get the time in every event. Very few horses can cope with that both mentally and physically on every occasion. So I save that for when it really matters.

The most important thing is that horses enjoy it. It never works to bully a horse into doing something, they will eventually become unstuck because they won’t trust their rider. They have to want to please me rather than be frightened.”

 

Kit that powers Tina’s success

We always want to know what the latest “tack trends” plus the brands favoured by professionals. So here are Tina’s top choices:

“All my horses have been fed on Red Mills feed for years now and my brother Nick has all his racehorses on it too.

I ride in Voltaire saddles and virtually live in my Ariat boots and Gatehouse hat. For the horses I use Prolite boots for every day and competition, and as my horses spend a lot of time in the field we have plenty of rugs from Jumpers Horseline.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

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Badminton build-up Giovanni and Kathryn

“I would rather win Badminton than any other event in the world” reveals international eventer Giovanni Ugolotti. “There is a feeling that no other event has, even the World Championships or Olympics and for Kathryn and me, it is what we have been dreaming of from childhood.”

With team appearances at the Olympics, World Games, European Championships, the Pan-Am Games and a number of CCI4* events between them, you could say that Kathryn Robinson and Giovanni Ugolotti are eventing’s “power couple”. Together they run Cranford Stud, an eventing and training yard in Gloucestershire and are both planning to compete at Badminton 2018. Horse Scout are giving away a prize for two people to walk the Badminton course with Kathryn and Giovanni and discover their trade secrets.

Giovanni started eventing in his native Italy and finished 4th in the Italian Junior Championships in 1999. He rode for the Italian Army Equestrian team from 2002 until 2007 before arriving in England in May 2008 to work for Andrew Nicholson. This was followed by a stint riding young horses for Tristram Owers. He quickly made his mark on the British scene taking 1st and 2nd at Hartpury CCI1* in 2008. In 2010 he finished 12th at Pau CCI4* and has competed at Badminton on three occasions.

Kathryn was born in Canada to a British father and Canadian mother but has been based in the UK for most of her life. The daughter of unhorsey parents, she began riding at her local riding school and was an active member of the Woodland Pytchley Pony Club. Kathryn didn’t take up eventing properly until she was 19, whilst working for international eventer Sam Albert.

Kathryn admits her career would not have been the same without her ride of seven years, Let It Bee. A horse she bought from Germany simply as an amateur horse but with whom she has scaled the highest level. The pair have competed at Badminton, Pau, The Pan Am Games and the Rio Olympics. Kathryn is hopeful for a good placing at this year’s Badminton, having jumped a double clear at her first attempt here in 2016.

So what do you need to excel at Badminton? “You need a partnership with your horse” explains Giovanni. “And your horse needs to be at the top of his form that weekend. You can have very good horses, capable of winning but if they are having an off day or are not at their peak for those four days then you are not going to win. You need a bit of luck” he says.

Kathryn and Giovanni will walk the Badminton course about four times. “The first impression doesn’t usually change too much and it is certainly a course that doesn’t get any smaller each time you walk. In fact, with Badminton I find that the more you think about it, the bigger it seems” he smiles.

Giovanni and Kathryn have a healthy working relationship rather than a competitive one. “We try to help each other” says Giovanni. “Kathryn helps me a lot in the dressage and I try to help her in the jumping. Sometimes we bump into arguments like every couple does. Luckily we like completely different kinds of horses, so it works out quite well.”

During the winter Kathryn likes to keep her eye in by riding out racehorses for trainers such as Ben Pauling and Alan King. Whilst Giovanni prefers to capitalise on the downtime, returning to Italy to see family. He is an ardent football fan and supporter of AC Milan.

Life on the yard is pretty busy so during the season, there is little time for other hobbies. “There is a lot of paperwork involved with running an equestrian business” explains Kathryn “Although we sometimes go to the gym after we have finished riding the horses”.

For 2018 they have some exciting young horses coming through, but good result at Badminton is vital for both riders as it will help their chances of team selection for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September 2018.   

Written By Ellie Kelly

PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

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Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

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The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

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Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

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Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

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The Sky’s the Limit. Emily Lewellyn and Greenlawn Sky High set for a great ride through Badminton tomorrow

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Emily Llewellyn has featured on the Horse Scout Blog and our face book page a bit recently and here she is again as we watch her holding her own on her lovely horse Greenlawn Sky High who is owned by her mother Mrs Cindy Lewelly and Mrs Nicolette Gidley Wright.  He is a 12year old Irish Sports Horse by International Show Jumper Aldatus Z.  Previously a show jumper Emily has had the ride on Greenlawn Sky High for the last six years and it didn’t take long to realize that he was the horse for her. She loved him so much that she decided to buy him! Before selling a half share to Mrs Gidley Wright. (Kingsland Equestrain)!  Emily and Green Lawn Sky High have a penalty score of  just 49.6 to take with them to the starting gate tomorrow. We all wish her the very best at the Horse Scout Blog and I hope that the sun does indeed come out for you (as you asked on your tweet the other day!).

You can find Emily’s professional profile here: Emily Lewellyn on Horse Scout